Five Sambhogakaya Buddhas

Skt., pancabuddha
Tib., sangs rgyas lnga: Five Purified and Awakened Ones

According to the Bardo Thödol, these five Dhyani Buddhas appear, one per day and in union with the corresponding Wisdom Dakinis, during the first five days of the bardo:

  1. Vairocana (Tib., Nampar Nangdza; rNam-par sNang-mDzad) center
  2. Akshobhya (Tib., Mikyopa; Mi-bsKyod-pa) east
  3. Ratnasambhava (Tib., Rinchenjungdan; Rin-chen-hByung-lDan) south
  4. Amitabha (Tib., Opame; hOd-dpag-med) west
  5. Amoghasiddhi (Tib., Donjodubpa; Don-yod-Grub-pa) north


In the drawing, the central blue plane represents the sambhogakaya realm, indicating the five directions in which the above Buddhas manifest as visionary beings representing the all-encompassing Adibuddha (here symbolized by the three-dimensional sphere).

Each of these Buddhas represents one of the five families and each also has a so-called 'spiritual son' (or two): Bodhisattvas who represent the active energy of the respective Sambhogakaya Buddha by way of their (Nirmanakaya) manifestations and incarnations.

There are other collective Sanskrit names in use for these five deities: tathagathas and jinas. Also, there are other systems of organization - mostly with Vairocana changing positions (center/east) with Akshobhya.